THE LONG-time leader of Wigan’s taxi drivers has quit with a broadside for union bosses.
Ronnie Melling has resigned his post from Britain’s biggest trade union, Unite, in a dispute over an alleged lack of support from full time officials.
The borough-wide Hackney Carriage Branch is currently fighting the council’s licensing department over a controversial stipulation that cabbies must use two town hall-nominated garages for their twice yearly MOT-style vehicle tests.
They claim that the ruling is a restriction of trade and want the right to choose any VOSA-appointed test centre and shop around for the best value.
Mr Melling, who has been branch secretary for almost a decade, said today he was sorry to quit the union but needed to make a stand because of their alleged inaction.
He said that the branch made a bid for cabs to be to be tested every six months at VOSA-appointed test centres (rather than solely at the council’s own centres) in a meeting with councillors at the regulation and licensing committee last December.
But members were disappointed at the alleged lack of support from the union in pressing the council for a re-think.
He said: “The main reason for my decision to resign is that Unite has refused to support us in taking Wigan Metro to judicial review, which is the only way forward.
“This is the first time in nine years we have asked for help, we have done everything for ourselves previously.
“I joined the union for solidarity to safeguard drivers’ livelihoods, not for sickness benefit or any other benefit.
“The leaders of this union seem to have lost sight of this, so hand on heart, I can’t say to drivers ‘you should join the union’ because at least with my AA membership if I’m in trouble they will help, that’s why I pay.
“But this has left me wondering ‘why am I paying union subs?’”
Mr Melling said that the Department for Transport had confirmed that they could use any VOSA accredited MOT centre.
There was no one available from Unite for comment.